In the top of the eighth inning, West Virginia and Oklahoma State were tied 2-2 in an elimination game in the Big 12 Tournament. Both teams were hanging on to a chance of hosting a regional, with the winner significantly increasing their chances.
After a Grant Hussey walk, Landon Wallace bunted a ball right on the chalk down the first base line. The throw from Oklahoma State catcher Chase Adkinson pulled the first baseman off of the bag, putting West Virginia in a position to take the lead with no outs. However, the home plate umpire ruled Wallace interfered with the throw, and after review, the call was upheld.
West Virginia would be given an out and Hussey would go back to first. The Mountaineers did not score in the eighth, and then Oklahoma State’s Roc Riggio took full advantage, roping a single to right field in the bottom of the inning to score the go-ahead run in Oklahoma State’s 3-2 win on Thursday.
West Virginia and Oklahoma State were locked in a pitcher’s duel for the majority of the game. West Virginia starter Ben Hampton allowed two runs in the first inning but would be brilliant for his team after. Hampton allowed just the two runs over the next five innings, handing the ball over to Mountaineer closer Carlson Reed in the seventh.
Nolan McLean got the start for Oklahoma State on the mound, and he and Hampton went back-and-forth, pitch-for-pitch. McLean would also allow two runs across six innings, giving up four hits and striking out four.
It would end up being a battle between Reed and the Cowboys’ Juaron Watts-Brown.
Watts-Brown and Reed both came on in the seventh, but Watts-Brown worked out of trouble, while Reed couldn’t do so.
In the eighth, Reed gave up an infield single to David Mendham and then he would advance to second on a bunt, bringing up the top of the Cowboy lineup. That bunt would be the difference with Riggio’s single scoring Mendham, allowing the Cowboys to re-take the lead.
In the ninth, the Mountaineers looked dead after two strikeouts by Watts-Brown. Watts-Brown would then get into some hot water with the game on the line.
Watts-Brown hit JJ Wetherholt with a pitch, before Caleb McNeely ripped a ball past third base four a double, moving Wetherholt to third. Grant Hussey would be hit by a pitch before the game would turn to Watts-Brown against Landon Wallace.
Watts-Brown used his slider to get Wallace swinging three times, as Oklahoma State survives, and West Virginia now awaits their future with the NCAA Selection Committee’s decision deciding where they end up.
Watts-Brown ended the game throwing three innings, striking out seven, and walking three, while giving up two wins. He also picked up the win (6-4). Reed was charged with the loss (2-1), pitching two innings, giving up three hits, one run, and striking out four, while walking two.
West Virginia has only six hits on the day, and struck out 11 times, making it 21 times WVU struck out in their two games in Arlington this week. Oklahoma State also had six hits with four of them coming from the top-five in their lineup, and two of them coming from the bottom of the order. None of the hits were extra-base-hits.
Hosting No More?
The winner of this game was going to be the Big 12’s most likely candidate to host. West Virginia loses five straight to end the season, not helping their RPI and not giving the committee a good sense of how this team is playing. West Virginia will play in a regional, it’s just a matter of if it’s in Morgantown or as a two-seed elsewhere.
Wetherholt is back… hopefully
JJ Wetherholt reached base all five times he stepped to the plate on Thursday. He recorded two hits, was hit with a pitch twice, and intentionally walked. Wetherholt came into Thursday 2-for-17 over the last four games and if you’re West Virginia, you hope he carries this momentum into the rest of the postseason.
This is the second year in a row now that this group has gone 0-2 in the Big 12 Tournament. Last year it meant WVU is held out of the NCAA Tournament and this year it might mean the Mountaineers are left out of the top-16.
Top seeds go down
West Virginia is now the second team eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament. The other is Texas, who was a fellow co-champion during the Big 12 regular season. Texas was the No. 1 seed in the tournament, while WVU was the No. 3 seed.
What do you suspect all the consequences of these two losses so far is the NCAA tournament?